A good three in 10 (27 percent) of UAE residents WOULD recommend their bank to friends and family, according to our annual customer satisfaction survey for 2014.

This is almost twice as many as in 2013, when just 15 percent of respondents said they would put in a good word for their bank – and an even bigger jump in confidence from the 2012 poll result of 11 percent.

We polled 6,000 residents with the simple question – Would you recommend your bank to family and friends? – to get a temperature check on sentiment towards UAE banking. After all, our money is hugely important to each of us and we want to be happy with where we put it.

Top banks for customer satisfaction

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), with 35 percent of its customers giving it the thumbs up, wins the Souqalmal.com People’s Choice Award for 2014.

Next in line was Emirates NBD, followed by National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) in third position, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) in fourth and Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) in fifth.

However, more work needs to be done. Despite the overall rise in customer satisfaction, a fifth of those polled said they could not name one good thing about their bank.

‘Banks are listening’

Ambareen Musa, our founder and CEO, commented: “It seems that UAE financial institutions are finally listening to their customers and responding more effectively to complaints.

“I think there has been an increase in competition as well, to lure customers into swapping their banks.”

Philip King, UAE Head of Retail at ADIB, said: “We are very pleased to be named the most recommended bank by our customers and this is testament to the work that we have done to better understand our customers and provide them with the products and services that they want.

“We have found ways to make our customers’ lives easier by improving access to our services, and introducing innovative new products such as new mobile and online services, dedicated social media channels and a new branch concept.”

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What do customers like most about their bank?

We also asked our users what the top feature of their bank was – products available, customer service or number of branches.

Proving customers want easy access to banking services, the number of branches was voted ADIB’s best feature, followed by its customer service.

Table: The percentage of customers for each of the top five banks who are satisfied and, of that number, the breakdown as to what it is that most satisfies them about their bank.

Bank %
1. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) 35%
Availability of branches 35%
Customer service 37%
Products 15%
None of the above 13%
2. Emirates NBD 33%
Availability of branches 49%
Customer service 27%
Products 13%
None of the above 11%
3. National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) 32%
Availability of branches 38%
Customer service 33%
Products 17%
None of the above 12%
4. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) 31%
Availability of branches 21%
Customer service 44%
Products 21%
None of the above 14%
5. Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) 29%
Availability of branches 32%
Customer service 33%
Products 19%
None of the above 16%

Overall bank satisfaction results by nationality

Breaking the results down by nationality, expat Westerners were the most disappointed by their bank.

Expat Arabs and UAE nationals were the most likely nationalities to recommend their bank to other people – but also the least impressed with the financial products their bank offered.

Table: Would you recommend your bank to a friend – by nationality.

Expat African Expat Arab Expat Asian Expat Westerner UAE National
Would not recommend 52% 47% 44% 53% 50%
Passive 22% 23% 29% 25% 23%
Highly recommend 26% 30% 27% 22% 27%